Walking into a favorite lunch place one day recently I saw a friend with her friend. What caught my attention was the pen swap right there at the lunch table. From five feet away, I asked if I could have a pen, too. She was giving pens away for her husband’s business. Seemingly surprised at my request, she said ‘sure’ and gave me a wonderful gel pen.
That’s not the first time I’ve asked someone for a pen. That’s the way I roll, sometimes.
I collect them and have for many years. I have hundreds or thousands in a large basket in my sitting room. They are also in other locations around my house. There are 15 or so on my desk, including three new ones I received from a Texas friend.
Many of my friends and my family know I appreciate a good writing pen and I always ask for one when they tell me they are traveling.
My brother-in-law and niece went out West in September. They brought three pens, including a bright, glittering gold one from Las Vegas. I’ve seen others eye that one, too, so I hang on to it in public.
Among my pens from Texas are a toy soldier, a pen from Collins Aerospace that breaks apart into a rocket shape and then a wool covered pen with a beautiful four-legged sheep at the top of the pen. That one has become one of my all time favorites.
Recently in a restaurant I asked the waitress who was taking our order if that was her favorite pen. When she replied ‘no’ it was just a pen, I asked if she was willing to trade with me. I took a pen from my purse and we made the trade.
I’ve done that in banks, too, once upon a time.
I am a pen fanatic, I wrote nearly 30 years ago in a newspaper column. Still am. I love’ em. I collect them all — short ones, skinny ones, lone, fat ones and all colors of promotional pens with red, blue, black and purple ink. I actually prefer blue ink.
I watched the President of the United States sign a bill into law once with dozens of pens on his desk. He would make a mark and give the pen to someone surrounding him supporting the bill. I always wanted one. Forget the bill, pass me a pen.
A promotional pen advertising the Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster thriller, “Silence of the Lambs,” also remains a favorite.
There are pens from churches, stores, nonprofit groups, insurance companies, realtors, tire businesses, politicians, restaurants, tourists attractions, pens with names on them of all shapes and sizes.
There are expensive pens and cheap ones from the dollar store.
I was in the seventh or eighth grade envying my friends’ pens that used a plastic cartridge. Before I finally bought one, they’d loan me theirs.
A nurse friend had her own system of writing reports— a long time before computers. Some of her reports were in black ink unless the patient made a drastic change and she changed to red ink to alert others of the condition change.
And there are pen thieves.
One otherwise upstanding citizen, who would never steal anything in his life, does pick up a pen left at his office. If it was left, he claimed it as his own. I admit it, I’ve been known to do the same.
Some of my pens make noises. Some rattle, some ring Christmas bells, some are fire engine-shaped and make a siren noise and some are plain Janes.
I have plenty of holiday-themed pens. In my office years ago I always decorated a small tree with Christmas pens. I can do that with rabbit shaped pens, spring pens, birthday pens, Memorial Day pens and on and on. An Easter pen with a basket of eggs and a bunny on top is also in my location.
Although I have hundreds, I do have my favorite — light ones that write really fast. The heavy expensive pens aren’t for note taking at meetings, but they are fun to use on special occasions.
When I know people are traveling I remind them to bring the ‘free pens’ at hotels, although they are not readily available these days. My niece Lee bought me a pen from Washington, DC last spring. It’s a flower stem with a beautiful petal on top. So far I’ve glued that flower petal on three times. I’m not always the most delicate person when it comes to a flower petal on top of a writing instrument.
So yes, after all these years, I admit, I am a bonafide pen fanatic.
Pass me the pen.
Jean Gordon is an award winning journalist and spent nearly 49 years in the newspaper industry in Rutherford County.